SEW FRIENDLY: Vision Patchworkers Ipswich vice-president Joan Franz (left) and night group co-ordinator Sue Van’t Wout show off their handiwork.
SEW FRIENDLY: Vision Patchworkers Ipswich vice-president Joan Franz (left) and night group co-ordinator Sue Van’t Wout show off their handiwork. Rob Williams

Often in stitches, club ladies travel the world

BEING a patchworker can be far more exciting than people imagine.

Vision Patchwork Club night group co-ordinator Sue Van't Wout likens a recent meeting to a world trip.

"Last meeting we were introduced to Sardinian needlework," Sue says.

"No one had ever seen this before and it struck me that we are not simply members of a club, we are part of a global craft network.

"The different crafts that all the ladies of day or evening groups do are a little like a trip around the world."

Patchwork is most often used to make quilts, but it can also be used to craft bags, wall-hangings, warm jackets, cushion covers, skirts, waistcoats and other items of clothing.

Club members are multi-skilled; they also knit, crochet, embroider, paint fabric, and do textile art and beading.

Sue has been a member since 1999.

"I'm a carer during the day so I get to go out in the evening," she said.

"This is my sanity, the group.

"I had cancer a while ago and a friend said, "You should do something for you'.

"You can come to the club and have a chat and a laugh and everyone is so generous and sharing."

Sue at first took a beginner's course the club offers, which teaches the basics of patchwork.

While materials and equipment can be expensive, items can also be made on a budget.

Many local stores offer discounts to club members.

"You can make a quilt out of all the jeans that no longer fit you," Sue suggests.

"Every meeting we have a show and tell for the finished projects.

"We're always on the lookout for new people."

Patchwork quilts, often treasured as family heirlooms or ideal gifts, can take a day to make, or months and years.

Vision ladies range in age from early 30s to 80s, some of whom have been in the group for 26 years. Many ladies who work during the day, or older quilters who prefer a smaller group, choose to join the night group.

Vice-president Joan Franz attends the day group.

She's made a few quilts, and values the friendships she's enjoyed along the way.

Evidence of patchwork - sewing small pieces of fabric together to create a larger piece, quilting layers of textile together - has been found throughout history.

The earliest examples have been discovered in Egyptian tombs and also in China from about 5000 years ago.


Quilters work to aid many in need

THE Patchwork Club began in 1986 as a community meeting place for craft and friendship.

Founder Joy Truasheim says many quilts and other handmade items have been donated to organisations dealing with at-risk children, adults in need and babies.

Many ladies voluntarily contribute towards the needs of others - quilts for children having dialysis treatment; bed socks, scarves, beanies, children's knitwear for orphanages; pyjamas, quilts, clothing, toiletry bags for children; and teenagers in foster care.

Small quilts are also donated to cover stillborn babies, and jackets knitted for African babies born with AIDS.

"The charity work of club members has expanded over the years, to an amazing level of achievement," Joy said.

"Many members are senior citizens who find the friendships refreshing and stimulating.

"There is no compulsion to participate in any project, nor is there any expectation of any standard of craft excellence - but rather a relaxed atmosphere of friendship and acceptance."

The Patchwork Club meets at Vision Christian Family, 58 Gledson St, North Booval, on the first and third Wednesday of each month from 7-9pm, as well as the first and third Thursday of the month from 9-11.30am (back to back with the Wednesday meeting).

Attendance fee is $3.

Annual membership is $10 ('golden' members aged over 70 pay $5).

General inquiries to Audrey McCoombes on 3282 4370.

Beginners class inquiries can be directed to Joy on 3812 2416.

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